Leicester compound Saracens’ misery amid speculation over Owen Farrell’s future

Leicester 19-10 Saracens: Farrell has been linked with a move to Racing 92

Duncan Bech
Saturday 06 January 2024 19:03 GMT
Owen Farrell is England’s biggest star who has spent 15 years at StoneX Stadium
Owen Farrell is England’s biggest star who has spent 15 years at StoneX Stadium (PA Wire)

Saracens’ torrid weekend that began with revelations over Owen Farrell’s possible move to Racing 92 continued with a 19-10 Gallagher Premiership defeat at Leicester.

Farrell’s champions struggled on a hard-fought afternoon in the East Midlands with the England captain powerless to prevent a third league defeat in four matches.

The news he has been in talks with Racing 92 over joining the Top 14 leaders next season emerged on Friday, sending shockwaves through Saracens and the Premiership even if an agreement has yet to be reached.

Farrell is England’s biggest star who has spent 15 years at StoneX Stadium, but a move to Paris would make him ineligible for the national side and land another blow on the credibility of a competition experiencing an exodus of players across the Channel.

If he does head to the French capital, on recent evidence he will be departing a troubled Saracens with their latest loss registering a fifth Premiership defeat of the season – their total for the whole of the 2022-23 campaign.

Errors by the 32-year-old contributed to two of Leicester’s three tries but Tigers also made life difficult for the visitors, their determination stamped all over an impressive display.

Farrell’s early contributions were with the boot when stationed deep inside his own half as Saracens faced an early onslaught from the hosts, but in the 12th minute he made a significant blunder.

Flinging out a pass intended for Elliot Daly, the ball was instead picked off by centre Dan Kelly who cantered over for the opening try.

Saracens hit back with a long-range try inspired by Daly’s athleticism that was finished by Tom Parton and, having landed the conversion, the England fly-half delivered successive pinpoint kicks that forced Leicester to scramble.

Saracens slump to defeat following rumours of Owen Farrell’s departure (Getty Images)

Having nudged Saracens five points ahead with a penalty, he then dropped a simple pass and kicked a ball straight into touch, inviting Tigers to attack from the edge of the 22.

With waves of Leicester runners building pressure, the visiting defence cracked with Matt Rogerson crashing over to open a 12-10 lead.

Kelly had a second try in which he outhustled Daly controversially chalked off and the frantic pace continued into the second half with both sides going close to scoring.

Leicester turned down three routine points in favour of going for the corner and they began hammering away at the whitewash, gaining the advantage of Maro Itoje’s departure to the sin-bin for not retreating 10 metres.

Saracens’ scrum was stood up and, with the white shirts buckling before the repeated attacks, quick hands delivered the key moment with Harry Simmons finishing in the right corner.

Leicester now had the cushion to close out the game and they solidly did this to leave the visitors positioned in sixth place in the table.

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